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Cabover, cabover, send Paccar right over

Jason Cannon January 31, 2014

Paccar has jumped feet first into the cabover market with a unique strategy – at least a strategy unique to them.

After two previous attempts at installing a cabover in the U.S. marketplace, Kenworth and Peterbilt have developed their own models, on their traditional chassis for North American specifications.

Prior attempts were barely more than a DAF kit patch-worked together to suit American needs.

At the American Truck Dealers Expo in New Orleans last week, I stole a few minutes from Wesley Salvin, Peterbilt’s Marketing Manager – Medium Duty Products.

Salvin says sales efforts behind these trucks – the 220/210 models – have been rolled out and order intake and quote activity has picked up.

“It seems like there’s a lot of pent up demand that’s going to go forth in 2014, and I think we’re starting to see some buying cycles from the customer bases,” he says. ”We’ve had a lot more quote activity with municipalities and cities, refuse pickup and that kind of stuff.”

Sales focus and chassis aren’t the only thing different about this initiative. Salvin says Pete has also developed strong aftermarket support for the models – something prior generations lacked.

“That’s a big deal,” he says of an OE aftermarket base. ”I think it’s going to start picking up pretty quick. I think people are starting to see more on the road, and our dealers are getting them stocked up on their lot and I think it’s going to start moving.”

During a trip to Paccar’s offices in Washington state last year, Doug Powell, Kenworth’s Medium-Duty Marketing Manager, told me Kenworth has made a similar commitment, noting the K270 and K370 models are the best cabover products the brand has brought to market in years.

Paccar hasn’t struggled to move units, and the company announced Friday retail truck sales in the U.S. and Canada were 212,000 units in 2013. So why jump back in a traditionally shallow cabover pool?

Having a viable truck for urban delivery, and one that could be spec’d for refuse and municipal applications, expands the portfolios of both Pete and Kenworth in a market segment where quote activity is starting to pick up. Also likely is the incentive to produce a success story in a segment where Paccar has historically fallen short.

I took Kenworth’s K270 and K370 models for a test drive last August, and you will struggle to find a better handling and quieter cabover. To that point, the K370 and Pete’s Model 220 were nominated for ATDs medium-duty Truck of the Year.

I would say that if Paccar is looking to finally write a cabover success story, Chapter 1 has been completed.

Jason Cannon is Online Managing Editor for Truck Parts & Service.

You can follow me on twitter at @By_Jason_Cannon

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